Entrepreneurship can be risky, even when you are not weathering a pandemic. The financial investment, time, and personal dedication it takes to get a business or idea off the ground can feel all-consuming. But if you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, you’ll understand: when you have a dream or a business idea, sometimes you just have to go for it.
Small business owners have faced hard times in the last year, and that was certainly the case for Martina Hough, who owns a full-service wedding company in Hawaii alongside her husband. When wedding cancelations started coming through, Martina decided to pivot and try a new venture.
In the middle of tough economic times and after months of struggling with event cancellations within her wedding business, Martina founded Mad About Merino, a fashion brand that sells exclusively merino wool pieces, from scarves to ponchos and hats.
Now the brand is up and running, and Martina has gained a few more entrepreneurial insights since starting a new business during a pandemic.
Start with a Pre-Existing Passion
Starting a business centered around something you’re already passionate about imbues your company with a sense of authenticity. It is a great way to begin because you have existing knowledge about that thing that you can continually build your expertise on overtime, thus establishing your credibility. For Martina, it was the practicality and enjoyment of the fabric that served as the genesis of this business idea. She was passionate about merino wool long before she started her business. She discovered the fabric on a trip to Australia and has been wearing it consistently ever since.
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Entrepreneurs who pull from their passions often have better luck achieving their goals because they are willing to stick it out when the work, inevitably, gets more difficult.
Get Ready to Wear Multiple Hats
Many businesses have begun during financially difficult times. While entrepreneurship during an economic crisis is possible, it requires a certain amount of savviness and an extra dose of dedication. In the early days of her company, Martina saved money by doing all of the administrative work herself.
With years of business experience, she knew which forms to file and how to file them. Entrepreneurs can save money in tough times by learning how to do tasks, from administrative to creative, on their own.
It took a bit of courage, she said, but Martina has even done all of the modeling and photography for the company on her own. This saves her money, time spent hiring and finding models, and gives her the chance to learn additional aspects of this particular industry. Even further, she’s experimented with various types of marketing — different from anything she’s done in the wedding industry — and had to learn which works best for her company.
Bring Your Customers Into Your Brand Story
Good stories make for good brands, but sometimes you have to go a little further and educate your customers. Martina found this to be the case with merino wool: many potential customers did not understand the unique qualities and benefits that set the fabric apart from other clothing materials.
As we witnessed in 2020, brand stories matter. When the world went into an economic downturn and many small businesses suffered because of the pandemic, consumers began to put more thought into who and what they were supporting.
Your brand is more than the products you sell. It’s the community you support and the global initiatives you contribute to. Part of Mad About Merino’s brand story is its concern for the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Martina shares the environmental impact of her brand with customers, educating them on the products she sells and showing them why merino wool fabric is best.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs can tell their stories both by sharing what makes them unique, but also by including their brand in the larger narrative of the industry.
Whether you’re starting a business for the first time, or switching industries like Martina, don’t let tough times deter you. Companies like Microsoft, Uber, and Airbnb got their start during economic recessions. While it may seem like an unlikely time from the outside looking in, it just might be the opportune time for you to launch your business.